Understanding Arizona’s DUI charges

Arizona has several different classifications of offenses related to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Get the facts about each one.

Drunk driving is a common term in our society today. All too often it conjures up images of persons who so intoxicated that they can barely stand up yet they get behind the wheels of vehicles. The reality, however, is quite different. It is easier than many people think for Arizona residents to have blood alcohol levels over the legal limit and not even know it. Many very responsible people can be arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. For this reason, understanding the state's laws on different charges is important.

What are the different levels of offenses?

There are different ways of classifying driving under the influence offenses and one is by blood alcohol level. According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Arizona Governor's Office of Highway Safety, there are four different levels that fall within this type of classification:

  • An impaired to the slightest degree charge. Regardless of the quantity of a substance, if consumed and it impairs someone's ability to drive then they can be convicted of this charge.
  • A standard driving under the influence charge results when a driver's BAC is between 0.08 percent and 0.14 percent. For a commercially licensed driver, this threshold is reduced to 0.04 percent.
  • An extreme DUI is charged in cases where the driver's BAC level is between 0.15 percent and 0.19 percent.
  • A super extreme DUI is charged when the blood alcohol content of a driver is found to be 0.20 percent or greater.

These charges can result either from a stop while a person is driving or within two hours of driving.

All are misdemeanors under Arizona law. All of these offenses carry penalties that include mandatory jail time, fines and the use of an ignition interlock device. Jail time varies depending upon the blood alcohol content. For example, people convicted of a standard DUI will have a minimum jail sentence of 10 days while people convicted of an extreme and super extreme DUI will have a minimum jail sentence of 30 days and 45 days respectively.

Are there some DUI offenses that are felonies?

Any charge of an aggravated DUI is a felony in Arizona. Aggravated DUI charges result in situations involving a third or more repeat offense within 84 months, driving with a suspended or revoked license, failing to use an IID when required or receiving a DUI with a child 15 years old or younger in the vehicle.

What should drivers do?

A drunk driving charge requires the help of a qualified DUI lawyer. Contacting an attorney as soon as possible after an arrest is the best way to get a start on the defense that you need and deserve.

Keywords: DUI, drunk driving, arrest, charges